NPL Northern NSW Round 22 Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS

 DECLAN PAYNE 

Match of the Round

Maitland Magpies 2 (Clarke 25’, Thornton 63’) def. Broadmeadow Magic 0

Saturday 18th August, 6 pm at Cooks Square Park

It was already a good day for those in black and white; the Old Boys enjoying themselves in the corner, and the under the 20s celebrating a premiership and a second successive finals berth.

But come 8 pm, it had turned into the perfect day. Goals either side of half-time, against a Magic side missing some key names, ensured these two sides will meet twice more over the coming weeks.

It was the visitors who went so close to opening the scoring in just the sixth minute of play, a John Majurovski spin and spot saved superbly by Matt Trott at close-range.

The Magpies opened the scoring in the 25th minute of play though, with Ryan Clarke reacting to a loose ball from a corner first. He turned it home for his sixth goal of the season and put one Maitland foot in the finals.

Maitland had a golden chance to double their advantage just five minutes later when an extremely unfortunate Luke Callen handball happened inside the 18-yard box and a penalty was given.Sean Pratt stepped up to take the penalty but hit the post. He was first to the rebound and eventually turned home, but it was disallowed for offside.

It took until midway through the second half for Maitland to score again, but when they did they knew their finals berth was all but secured. The goal came from a free-kick right in the corner, which Matt Thompson stood over.

Thompson whipped it in, and it met the head of Liam Thornton. He made no mistake from close-range, the crowd roared as the net rippled and Maitland locked in their second finals appearance in three seasons.

What can’t be neglected is where Magic’s priorities perhaps laid – their FFA Cup Round of 16 clash on Tuesday night. They rested three players, Luke Virgili, Shane Paul, and Josh Piddington, and didn’t chance James Virgili who perhaps could have been fit and ready to go.

No matter the outcome in that match, their squad will be a much stronger one come next weekend when these two sides meet in the first leg of their semi-final match-up.

 

Lake Macquarie City 2 (Sichalwe 74’, Walker 90’) def. Lambton Jaffas 1 (Waller 28’)

Saturday 18th August, 2:30 pm at Macquarie Field

The upset of the weekend, or a result the likes of which has eluded Lakes all season? Either way, a magnificent late flurry earned the Roosters a dream three points on Old Boys’ Day.

The visitors opened the scoring midway through the first half when a well-timed run from midfielder Tom Waller saw him on the end of a Luke Remington cross into the box.

Lambton had the ball across the line again inside in the first half, after Jobe Wheelhouse turned home at the back post from a free kick, but the linesman had his flag up.

Lakes should have levelled things up inside a minute of the second half, but Mitch Hunter somehow managed to hit the post twice in as many attempts and Lambton nearly had a good chance up the other end from the counter-attack.

There will remain question marks over the fitness of Ridge Mapu as Lambton approach the finals series after a heavy tackle from Hunter left him in a heap in the 54th minute of play. He was carried from the field, with Marcus Duncan coming on in his place.

Lambton nearly grabbed their second in the 63rd minute of play when Bradeyn Crowley and Joel Griffiths combined in something of a goalmouth scramble, but the ball went out for a corner.

A wildly misplaced ball from Michael Kantarovski opened the door for Lakes, and they took the chance with both hands. The quick throw-in saw the ball floated across, and Jack Diebold rose highest for the flick-on. Paul Sichalwe was at the back post, and he scored his sixth goal of the season to bring Lakes level.

If the first goal was a good one, the winner from Lakes was absolutely magnificent. It was Sam Walker, the man vying for the Golden Boot, who stepped up for the free-kick 20 yards out. It was inch-perfect, nestling in the top corner to give Lakes the win.

Lakes boss Nick Webb called the match ‘a game of two halves’.

“Lambton were a bit too quick for us in the first half, and we didn’t deal with it well and to be honest were lucky to only be 1-0 down,” said Webb.

“We changed our shape in the second half and it seemed to work. We certainly dominated in the second half, and deserved the win in the end, I think.

“It was a great way for Sam Walker to finish with that free kick, and Paulie [Sichalwe] as well, heading over to Africa, so it was a nice way to finish the end of the year.”It has been a season of ‘could-haves’ for Lakes, and Webb has identified where they need to improve in order to shoot up the ladder next season.

“If you look at our for and against, we’ve scored enough goals to finish in the top four but defensively we’ve just let in way too many,” said Webb.

“Obviously it’s an area which we’ve got to fix, and we’re on the way to doing that. We’ve already signed two players, and we’re just waiting to sign one maybe two more, and that’ll be us done.”

 

Charlestown City Blues 3 (Goodchild 10’, Nicholson 75’, Ferguson 78’) def. Newcastle Jets Youth 2 (Cairelli 67’, Petratos 82’)

Saturday 18th August, 2:30 pm at Lisle Carr Oval

It was a match which was more than likely not going to have any impact on things at the end of the season, but someone forgot to tell these two sides.

It was a five-goal thriller at Lisle Carr Oval, four more than the last time they met back in May, but this time it was the Blues who came out on top.

The home side opened the scoring early on, awarded a penalty after goalkeeper Noah James shoved Blues captain Matt Tull as the corner came in. Kane Goodchild stepped up and converted the penalty in the tenth minute of play.

Only fingertips prevented the Jets from levelling the score just moments later, when a Kieran Hayes volley from outside the area was just tipped over by Alex Bozinovski in the Charlestown goal.

It took a long time for the Jets to find an equaliser, but they managed it in the 67th minute of play. It was Josh Cairelli, a player who has been so dangerous coming in from the left-hand side this season, who hit his shot across the ‘keeper and into the far corner.

Two Charlestown goals in three minutes would put all hope of a dream comeback down, however. The first was a back-post tap-in for Joel Nicholson in the 75th minute, the second a glancing finish from Rene Ferguson in the middle of the goalmouth in the 78th minute.

An absolutely delightful free-kick managed to bring the Jets back within a goal in the 82nd minute, with Maki Petratos hitting something of a screamer in from the edge of the 18-yard box.

Charlestown’s finals hopes were all but impossible, and they were over by the end of Saturday night. In a season which started so brightly, injuries wreaked havoc with what was a thin squad and prevented them from going on with things. Expect a bolstered and well-gelled Blues side come next March.

“It was good from the boys, they played well,” said Charlestown coach David Tanchevski.

“They probably let a couple of goals in that we didn’t want to, but overall it was good. We had a change in goalkeeper, Jim [Fogarty] was unavailable for the game so Boz [Alex Bozinovski] came in and did a good job.

“We finished off the season strong as we wanted to. We needed to win our last three to have a chance, unfortunately, results didn’t go our way but we ended the season off strong.

“Pete McPherson was good, Kev Davison was strong at the back, and Rene [Ferguson] and Goody [Kane Goodchild] always have strong games.”

After five wins from five at the beginning, Charlestown dipped and managed just five more in their following fifteen matches. Tanchevski believes injuries hurt his side more than anything else.

“The injuries we had this season, I’ve never seen so many in my 15 years of coaching,” said Tanchevski.

“When we played Weston at Weston (in round 17) we had ten first graders out, which I would say it pretty unheard of. You lose three or four first graders you get upset, so to have ten out in one game is crazy.

“I don’t think you’ll see that again… I’d be pretty happy to take that squad into next year. We’ll probably look to sign a couple of key people to give us a bit more depth in certain positions.”

 

Hamilton Olympic 2 (Pettit 24’, 45’) def. Weston Bears 0

Saturday 18th August, 6 pm at Darling Street Oval

Old Boys Day also at Hamilton, there were likely a number of onlookers in Blue at Darling Street Oval hoping for a Broadmeadow win at Maitland. An odd thought!

Their hopes were in vain though, and despite a good performance and the result to match Hamilton missed out on finals football for the first time since 2014.

It was a poor pass from the Weston backline which opened the door for Hamilton’s first goal. Scott Pettit seized on it and laid the ball off to Jake McGuinness, who took it a ways and fired off a shot.

The deflection fell nicely into the path of Pettit, who jinked his way around one and finished past Kane Runge to give Olympic the lead.

A blatant foul inside the penalty area earned Hamilton a chance to double their advantage in the 45th minute of play when Jackson Burtson cut down Jarryd Sutherland who was heading away from goal.

Scott Pettit was the man who stepped up to take the penalty, and he sent Kane Runge the wrong way and scored his second of the evening.

Beau Wilkins had a few holding their breath early into the second half when his shot with the outside of his foot had Olympic Tyler Warren moving fast to collect. Weston maybe should have had one just moments later, but Liam O’Reilly couldn’t get on the end of Chris Hurley’s square ball.

The visitors enjoyed a period of some possession, with Regan Lundy nearly putting one away shortly after. There was a moment of some confusion shortly after though when Scott Pettit decided to pick up the ball following Nathan Morris knocking the referee to the floor! No foul though, only a drop-ball.

An absolutely superb save from Tyler Warren denied Josh Maguire a goal in the 69th minute of play, and he was again at full stretch in the 81stto nab a Chris Hurley header.

It just wasn’t Weston’s day as they couldn’t find a way through – but nor was it Hamilton’s, who despite their victory couldn’t find a way into the top four as Maitland got the job done at Cooks Square Park.

Interestingly, Hamilton finishes the season with more wins and more goals scored than both Lambton and Maitland in fourth and third respectively. A solid first season in charge from Peter McGuinness, and if things continue in this vein expect them to be challengers next season.

 

Valentine Phoenix 0 def. by Edgeworth Eagles 1 (Byrnes 72’)

Sunday 19th August, 2:30 pm at CB Complex

It was a windy winter’s afternoon Valentine on Sunday afternoon, as the premiers travelled down the lake for their final regular season match of the year.

Valentine showed their intent early, with rough challenges on Bailey Garland and Jamie Byrnes signalling Phoenix weren’t just there to make up the numbers.

It was Garland who went closest in the first half to open the scoring, his shot from inside the area forcing Perry Budden to make a superb diving save to his left and keep the scores level.

Edgeworth had a good chance in the 71st minute, but Budden was on hand once again to deny them – this time it was Bower who unleashed a shot. There was nothing the ‘keeper could do about the resulting corner though, with Jamie Byrnes scoring at the back post.

To add insult to injury for Valentine, they went down to ten men in the final minutes of the match as Wilson Edwards was shown a second yellow card.

Victory for Edgeworth was their 14th in the league this season, but it also lead at the top was stretched out to 11 points. That’s the highest winning margin since 1999 when the Eagles won the premiership by a whopping 13 points back in a 22-match season.

“It was windy on Saturday, but on Sunday it went to another level out there,” laughed Edgeworth coach Damien Zane.

“Both teams probably did a fair job in the conditions… you can hear on the BarTV footage how windy it was, but it was good to finish off with a win and extend our advantage at the top.”

“What we’ve done this year has been pretty amazing, it’s been a long time since we’ve lost and we were treating yesterday seriously. We want to go into the semis in winning form, and I had confidence that the squad we put out was good enough, and they got the job done.

“Good to get the points and get out of the wind.”

Lakes win over Lambton, and Maitland’s win at home means that Edgeworth will now face Jaffas in the semi-finals. Zane believes it’s one of the toughest top fours in recent memory.

“The top four this year, and it’s like it every year but especially this year, there’s nothing in it,” said Zane.

“There’s no one you’d prefer to play necessarily. Lambton has a strong squad, but at the same time if we had have drawn Maitland…they’re beaming along and are in great form.“We just waited to see who we’d get, and hopefully we can make our way through the semi-finals. In the time I’ve been around, it’s as tight a finals series as I think there will be.

“There’s no preference as to who you’d rather play.”




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